Sierra Leone 2006
In the middle of nowhere a big cabin US Volvo VN880 were found very dirty & deserted.
- Sierra Leone video 3:15 / 7 mb
Arrived to Freetown a dark night in spring 2006, I was informed to ask for the helicopter...the city is on the other side of the bay.
Couldnt resist a small smile when we sat down on the provisory seat in the old russian helicopter.
The following morning on the way to bauxite mining site.
The distance is around 170 km of wich half is on asphalt the main road from Freetown to southeast.
When leaving the asphalt, the road became worse and worse the closer to the mine site we came. When passing the old Sierra Rutile and bauxite ghost mining town in the afternoon we had only an hour or 15 km drive left to the camp.
Too late When arriving to the mine site the next morning we could see that we came too late.
After a month operation, already 4 out of the 35 new Volvo FM trucks were totally wrecked.
The drivers had not been driving nor working the last decade due to civil war.
In Africa the soil is normally red, but the ore soil here is RED RED. The aluminium content of the mining ore is >50%...
There was no risc of overloading, even with big buckets....
The PW company used watertankers and 20 foot containers with made holes to spray ½ million liter water on the roads everyday to prevent dust.
The day of my departure the production was halted, all the truck and bus transport drivers went on strike. The reasons were a driver was fired the previous day, cought with stealing diesel for the third time.
It also became too much for the drivers when they were told exactly how much diesel each driver had been stealing per shift, this through the trucks info system and Dynafleet TripManager. On the nightshifts diesel was beeing sucked up on most of the trucks.
When this became obvious we got an answer on why those small pickups we saw on the road driving to the site, was fully loaded with plastic canisters.
(The drivers salary here was the lowest I heard of so far; 18 SEK for a 12 hour shift.)
The total trip home took 38 hours in all. (If there was a direct motorway from the site, through Sahara up to Europe it would have been as quick to drive....home)
Of some reason the road the big bay around Freetown was choosen for us on the way back to the airport, an extra 70 km and totally 12 hours drive. Preben who left a couple of days before me had an extra drama when the driver found out that the spare tire was locked with a sturdy padlock when thay needed to change the flat tire in the middle of nowhere.
How surprised you can get when finding a Volvo VN deserted at the road, it was not even old, probably 2000-2003 year model judging from the dash. It was found some 50 km from Freetown.